Cross-border collaborations set to defeat malaria in Africa
Kigali, 23 November 2021 – Rwanda and Tanzania last week became the first East African countries to launch cross-border malaria control and prevention initiatives, under the auspices of the Great Lakes Malaria Initiative (GLMI). The two GLMI countries last week launched a cross-border health post at the Rusumo border point of Rwanda and Tanzania.
“With this newly established health post, we shall strive to improve access to healthcare, particularly malaria diagnosis and treatment amongst the underserved communities in the border district, and among the mobile populations crossing the borders”, said Dr. Daniel Ngamije, Minister of Health of Rwanda.
The cross-border health post will offer preventive and curative services for malaria, whilst supporting health promotion and epidemiological surveillance of the disease, among other services.
The Rwanda-Tanzania border launch activities also included a demonstration of drone-based larviciding (spraying of mosquito breeding sites) at Cyunuzi Rice Plantation and indoor residual spraying to kill mosquitoes at a village in Rusumo. The event is the first of a series of GLMI cross-border launches set for Busia (Kenya-Uganda border), Gatumba (Burundi-DRC border) and Elegu (Uganda-South Sudan border).
The GLMI is composed of the seven territories of Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Uganda, and the United Republic of Tanzania, all collectively making the Great Lakes Region of Eastern and Central Africa. GLMI’s mission is to contribute towards the control and elimination of malaria in Africa Great Lakes region with special focus on the cross-border areas.
“There is sufficient evidence to show that working together across borders can significantly contribute to the reduction of malaria. Indeed, the efforts by each country will have the highest impact when coordinated and implemented in harmony amongst neighbours,” said ALMA Special Ambassador Okara. “The lessons learnt here should be shared with other regional economic communities, to deepen regional collaborations towards the malaria fight” he added.
Malaria knows no borders, increased regional collaboration is the pathway towards malaria elimination. The recently developed Great Lakes Malaria Initiative scorecard for accountability and action will support Member States to act systematically to address bottlenecks stalling progress towards ending this disease.
“We are a people with common heritage, common area and shared philosophy. We can harness our strengths in building stronger nations by integrating economic and social interests,” said Rashid Aman, the Chief Administrative Secretary at the Ministry of Health, Kenya, “None of the other diseases can compare to Malaria as it continues to take a huge toll on our governments and our people – we must eliminate it!” he added.
Ending malaria requires regional governments to enhance the capacity of institutions to comprehensively deal with the disease as well as integrate economic and social interests. The GLMI launch event in Rwanda was facilitated jointly by the East African Community (EAC) Secretariat, the Republic of Rwanda in collaboration with Society for Family Health (SFH), and other partners.
The GLMI, coordinated by the EAC, is one of the key initiatives of the regional economic communities (RECs) to eliminate malaria in Africa. Others include in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), where Heads of States have signed the Windhoek Declaration to End Malaria. In SADC a significant reduction of malaria has been witnessed in the cross-border initiative involving the Kingdom of Eswatini, the Republic of Mozambique and the Republic of South Africa (the MOSASWA initiative) opening up avenues for investment and economic growth in that part of the continent. Similar success stories can be seen in the Namibia and Angola border areas, as part of the Elimination 8 initiative. In the SAHEL region, countries have come together in the SAHEL Malaria Elimination Initiative to eliminate malaria in West Africa with increased co-ordination in malaria interventions including Long Lasting Insecticidal Net campaigns.